Bridgetown, Barbados – Today the Government of Barbados signed the Host Country Agreement for the fifteenth session of the UNCTAD Ministerial Conference (UNCTAD 15), signalling the Government’s commitment to hosting this important meeting.
The Conference is the highest decision-making body of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and is held every four (4) years. During the Conference, policy makers assess the current trade and development issues, discuss policy options and formulate global responses to the challenges affecting States – particularly developing states. The Conference also sets the organization’s mandate and work priorities.
Prime Minister, The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, signed the agreement in Barbados, while UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, signed the document in Nairobi, Kenya.
Prime Minister Mottley stated that, “The COVID-19 global emergency and its extreme repercussions have exposed the need for a fundamental rethinking of many of the assumptions that previously underpinned the international economic order. In a sudden and unexpected way, the crisis has provided the UNCTAD membership with a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of the new thinking and radical policy corrections that the situation now requires.”
UNCTAD 15 was originally scheduled to take place in Barbados from 18 to 23 October 2020, but had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of the Conference is “From Inequality and Vulnerability to Prosperity for All”.
Dr. Kituyi expressed the view that, “COVID-19 has starkly revealed that the world must transform global approaches to trade and development to chart a sustainable course to a better recovery. “We need to rebuild entirely from the ground up, because for too many, going back to business as usual is anathema to sustaining prosperity.” “From a trade and development perspective, a better recovery must be green, resilient, just and digital – but it must also be for all people and all countries, not just those who can afford it,” Dr. Kituyi said.
The pandemic has hit the most vulnerable countries and people hardest. Over 70 million additional people living in least developed countries (LDCs) will be pushed into extreme poverty this year, increasing the global poverty headcount ratio for the first time in two decades, according to UN estimates. COVID-19’s economic impact is particularly acute in small island developing states (SIDS) such as Barbados, where the services industry, especially travel and tourism, have borne the brunt of the pandemic.
These sectors are the lifeline of SIDS and the main sources of employment for women and small businesses, all of whom are severely affected by the pandemic’s economic fallout.
At UNCTAD15, countries will discuss how to get these vulnerable economies quickly back on their feet and trigger the investment needed to enhance their resilience to shocks, including climate change, which exacts a disproportionately heavy toll on SIDS.
Prime Minister Mottley gave the assurance that, “The Government of Barbados is committed to delivering a Conference that allows for the universal participation of UNCTAD’s 195 member states while fully protecting the health and safety of both the visiting delegates and the local population of Barbados. We aim to provide a platform for consequential deliberation and action by Ministers and for serious engagement with civil society. Above all, we are determined to make UNCTAD 15 an inclusive and unforgettable event that offers significant opportunities for the creativity and entrepreneurship of the people of Barbados.”